Franklin Comes Up Aces with TKO of Hamill at UFC 88

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC – Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin made a seamless return to the light heavyweight division, stopping a game but outgunned Matt Hamill with a steady striking attack in the UFC 88 co-main event tonight at Philips Arena.

It was Franklin’s first fight at 205 pounds since his first round TKO of Ken Shamrock in April of 2005.
By Thomas Gerbasi

ATLANTA, September 6 – Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin made a seamless return to the light heavyweight division, stopping a game but outgunned Matt Hamill with a steady striking attack in the UFC 88 co-main event tonight at Philips Arena.

It was Franklin’s first fight at 205 pounds since his first round TKO of Ken Shamrock in April of 2005.

After a tentative first minute from both men, the standup action picked up, with Franklin more active, but not particularly sharp. Hamill picked his shots more judiciously, cutting Franklin under the right eyebrow as the former middleweight champion worked on kicks to Hamill’s legs. With under a minute left, Hamill scored his first takedown, with Franklin immediately looking for an armbar. Hamill escaped, but was soon cut over his right eye as the round ended.

Franklin varied his standup attack in round two, landing with kicks and punches. The action was briefly halted as Franklin’s cut was inspected by the Octagonside physician, but after an all clear from the doctor, Franklin resumed his attack. There was another stoppage after an inadvertent low kick by Franklin, but again ‘Ace’ was undaunted by the break in the action and he kept pouring it on. The steel-chinned Hamill kept moving forward, but the punches and kicks were keeping him from mounting any kind of offensive.

In the third, Franklin finished it, with a left kick to the liver sending Hamill immediately to the canvas. The game prospect covered up, but referee Mario Yamasaki had seen enough, halting it at the 39 second mark.

With the win, Franklin improves to 26-3 with 1 NC; Hamill falls to 6-2.

Middleweight contender and former 205 and 183 pound PRIDE champion Dan Henderson got back in the win column, breaking a two-fight losing streak by defeating Rousimar Palhares via a three round unanimous decision that gave Henderson his first UFC win since 1998.

“He was as tough as anybody I faced,” said Henderson, who dropped UFC bouts to Quinton Jackson and Anderson Silva after a successful seven year run in PRIDE. “Nobody knows who he is, but he’s damn dangerous.”

Scores for ‘Hendo’ were 30-27 twice, and 29-28.

Henderson (23-7) towered over the shorter Palhares (17-2), and after some tense moments, Palhares shot for the takedown, getting rocked with a right hand for his trouble. Repeated attempts by the Brazilian were treated just as rudely, with Henderson making sure to get at least one punch in as he exited his sprawl. Palhares was no shrinking violet though, and as he absorbed Henderson’s bombs, he fired back with some of his own, along with some wild kicks that kept ‘Hendo’ honest. With under a minute left, Palhares finally got his takedown, but he didn’t have enough time to get anything done before the bell sounded.

The pace picked up in round two, and Palhares drew first blood with a thunderous takedown that rattled the Octagon. Palhares immediately tried for a heel hook, but Henderson escaped, drawing a roar from the crowd. After a brief standup exchange, Henderson and Palhares hit the mat again, with Henderson looking to ground and pound while Palhares searched for a submission. A standup by referee Herb Dean came at the 4:06 mark, but there was little in the way of scoring in the final minute of the frame.

The final round was a tactical one, with Henderson’s more conventional striking winning the day over Palhares’ unorthodox attack and failed takedown attempts. A late submission attempt from Palhares kept it interesting, but on this night, Henderson would not be denied.

Perennial middleweight contender Nate Marquardt made an impressive statement in his bout with Martin Kampmann, stopping ‘The Hitman’ via strikes in just 88 seconds, handing the Denmark native his first UFC loss in the process.

The action was furious from the opening bell, and when Kampmann (13-2) landed a hard right hand early, it looked like it might be a long night for Marquardt (30-8-2). But the resilient contender from Colorado responded with a right kick to the head that jarred his foe, and it was evident that it was about to become a short night for Kampmann.

A furious and varied barrage of strikes followed, and Kampmann was just not able to clear his head. Eventually, he sunk to the canvas, and referee Mario Yamasaki halted the bout at the 1:22 mark.

“I have the best coaches in the world – Trevor Wittman, Greg Jackson and Jon Chaimberg - and they told me to keep it basic,” said Marquardt. “I knew I was better, and though he was a kickboxer, I knew could take him standing. Whatever he gave me, I was gonna take it.”

Ultimate Fighter alumnus Matt Brown may have made more fans in defeat than victory, as his gutsy effort against Dong Hyun Kim won over the Atlanta fans that booed his three round split decision loss to the still unbeaten South Korea native.

“I don’t fight for the judges,” said Brown. “I fight for the fans and to finish. I loved fighting for Atlanta.”

Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Kim in the welterweight contest.

Kim (11-0-1) assumed control immediately, locking Brown (10-7) up from the back and locking in a rear naked choke. Brown escaped, but as the fight went to the ground, he was still in trouble. The Ohio resident fought free again and the two stood, giving Brown a second chance to get on track. With under a minute left, he got on it, scoring with a choke that Kim escaped, and by the end of the round, Kim was on Brown’s back again, where he remained until the bell.

Brown started the second off impressively, scoring with an array of strikes that put Kim on the defensive immediately. Kim tried to slow Brown’s momentum with a takedown, but ‘The Immortal’ fought it off and resumed his attack, taking Kim down and landing with punches from the top. After standing, Brown kept the pressure on, and Kim’s wild swings were met with crisp counterpunches, another takedown, and round ending ground and pound.

The early moments of the final round were tactical, and though Kim got a takedown of his foe, Brown got back up quickly, putting the fight back where he wanted it. The two locked up against the fence, and Brown scored with body shots effectively, forcing a takedown attempt by Kim. With under two minutes left, Kim got Brown to the mat, and his subsequent strikes cut his opponent under the left eye just before the bell ended the bout.
Saturday, May 30
Goiania, Brazil


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